It has been a week since both the Northern C 8-Man Chinook Sugarbeeters and Chester/J-I Hawks football teams earned dominating wins in the first round of the Class C state playoffs. And after another week of preparation, both teams are looking to duplicate those performances.
Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Chinook, the No. 1 Beeters will take on the No. 3 Western C Drummond Trojans. And Saturday at 1 p.m. in Twin Bridges, the No. 2 Hawks will take on the No. 1 Southern C Falcons. Last Saturday in round one action, the Beeters d
efeated Culbertson 62-16, while the Hawks defeated Scobey-Opheim 36-0.
Saturday's game between Chinook and Drummond is amatchup of two of the winningest Class C programs in recent years. The Trojans captured state titles in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009 and in that span ended Chinook's chance at a state title once.
Facing the Trojans, the Beeters need to step up on both sides of the ball.
The Trojans are definitely a run first team when comes to their attack. And coming out of a number of different formations, the Trojans will look to attack with the option. But if necessary, the Trojans will also try to stretch the field vertically with play action pass. Chinook head coach Matt Molyneaux knows it will take all eight players on the field to step up, but fans can also expect Jarell Jones to step up and lead the defense once again.
“We really have to be consistent on defense and we can’t give up the big play,” Molyneaux said. “Our keys are to contain their running game and it is going to be a total team effort.”
The Beeters’ defense will have to contain quarterback Mac Bignell, who can hurt teams with his arm and legs, as well as running back Darius Pool. Bignell and Pool scored twice each last weekend for all of Drummonds’ scores.
As for their offense, it is no secret that the Beeters can run the ball better than anybody in the state. With Ben Stroh coming out of the backfield and quarterback Zach Molyneaux also hurting teams with his legs, it is how the Beeters have found such dominance this season. Last weekend alone, Stroh and Molyneaux combined for five rushing touchdowns. Robby Klingaman also adds to the Beeters’ running game.
But as powerful as the run game is, the Beeters know they can do more. And moving forward, coach Molyneaux wants to see more production from the passing game. Chinook has passed the ball with some production throughout the season, and even more so late in the season. But with the talents of Brandon Riphenburg and Dylan Surber on the squad, the Beeters know they have to take advantage through the air as well.
“(Riphenburg) has played well for us,” coach Molyneaux said. “Especially the last few weeks. But along with Riphenburg, Dylan Surber has also been making big catches for us. The last few weeks they have both really stepped up and made the big catches we have needed.”
It is a similar story for the Hawks, as they hope to continue their success through the postseason.
C/J-I has a tough opponent in the Twin Bridges Falcons. The Falcons held their first round opponents to just six points in the contest and their defense will try to do similar work to the Hawks. That means the Hawks will hae to keep up their dominat play in the run game, but also step up their passing game with quarterback Leonard Puglsey at the helm.
“We have been passing the ball a little bit more the last couple of weeks,” Chester/J-I head coach Jim Vinson said. “And at this level we know we can’t be a one dimensional team offensively. We need to be able to move the ball in more ways than one and we have done better at that the last couple of weeks now.”
Erik Kelly will be a major factor on Saturday. He is the Hawks’ main running back and is coming off of a weekend where he racked up four rushing touchdowns for C/J-I. Kelly will also be key in the passing game, as he gets a lot of balls thrown his way coming out of the backfield. Kelly also had a receiving TD last weekend in the win.
The Hawks’ defense will also have their hands full if they don’t step up and limit what Twin Bridges quarterback Tyler Lott can do. He is just one of many very talented athletes for the Falcons and can hurt teams with his arm and speed. Lott placed in the state 100-meter dash last year and the Hawks are well aware of that.
To stop the production of the Falcons, who posted 40 points last week, the Hawks have to shrink the field. They want to get pressure on Lott and force him to make bad decisions. If the Hawks can do that, they may very well keep the Falcons’ production to a minimum.
“We have to shrink the field,” Vinson said. “We need them to play inside our little box and we will be alright, but if they can open things up and make us change our defensive style, they will be trouble.”
The Big Sandy Pioneers are in a familiar position. A huge playoff game on their home turf.
But on Saturday, the Pioneers will be up against an unfamiliar foe as they host the Fromberg-Roberts Falcons in a Class C Six-Man quarterfinal game. Kickoff in Big Sandy is set for 1 p.m.
The fourth-ranked Pioneers (8-1) come in to Saturday’s game fresh off a 47-6 thrashing of Hysham last Saturday in Big Sandy. In that game, Justin Stevens and Jessey Bailey ran all over the Pirates, while Trevor Lackner continued his excellent season at quarterback.
And as good as the Pioneers’ offense is, averaging over 40 points and 200 yards per game rushing, the Big Sandy defense has also been stout. And the Pioneers will need to be stout on Saturday.
The Falcons (8-1) finished second in the South Division this season, losing only to 2010 state champion Denton. In last week’s first round, the Falcons crushed Lima 66-28 to win their eighth game of the season. It’s been quite a turn around for the Falcons, as they captured just one win a season ago and were picked to finish seventh in the South this season.
A big reason for Fromberg’s success in 2001 has been the play of quarterback Jaymin Paugh (6-1, 172). But Paugh is just one of five returning starters for the Falcons and they are a veteran team on a roll. Running back Tyler McFate is also having a big season and he leads the Falcons in tackles from his linebacker position. Wide receiver Tyrell Newsome is another threat to score every time he touches the ball for a Falcon offense that averages 48 points per game and has scored a whopping 432 points this season. The Falcons have only been held under 60 points twice this year and they scored 71 in their season-opening win against Lone Peak.
So for Big Sandy to advance to the Six-Man semifinals for the second straight season, the Pioneer defense will have to come up big yet again.
Saturday’s Six-Man quarterfinal between the Pioneers and Falcons kicks off at 1 p.m. in Big Sandy. The winner advances to face either Savage or Hot Springs in the semifinals next Saturday.
Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Chinook, the Beeters will host Drummond. And Saturday at 1 p.m. in Twin Bridges, the Hawks will take Twin Bridges.